NFL coaches in the hot seat

Miami Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano watches from the sideline during their pre-season game...

Miami Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano watches from the sideline during their pre-season game against the Atlanta Falcons on August 12, 2011. (REUTERS/Tami Chappell)

Mike Rutsey, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:42 AM ET

TORONTO - Five head coaches who are feeling the heat as the NFL season approaches the quarter pole:

1. Tony Sparano, Miami Dolphins

Sparano tops about everybody's Most Likely To Be Fired list and for good reason. The Dolphins have simply been dreadful and at 0-3 are looking like a team that has tuned out and is playing to get its coach fired. The most damning statistic which will nail Sparano to his cross is his inability to get his team fired up at home as the Dolphins have lost 11 of the past 12 games played in Miami. At the end of last season, Miami owner Stephen Ross wooed Jim Harbaugh to no avail and even though he later extended Sparano's contract through 2013, the damage was done and Sparano has been viewed as a dead man walking ever since. The Dolphins have it tough in San Diego this Sunday and following a bye week, face the Jets on the road. Oct. 23 they are back home to Denver and a loss there and a potential 0-6 start could be all she wrote.

2. Steve Spagnuolo, St. Louis Rams

Spagnuolo finds himself without a win leading a team that was supposed to be a lock to win the NFC West division title. But following their 37-7 pasting last week at home against Baltimore, the Rams look more like a team about to completely fall apart than a team about to reverse course. That all falls on Spagnuolo as the Rams have looked ill prepared on both sides of the ball. One of his first comments following the one-sided loss to the Ravens last week was: "I don't have an explanation. I wish I did." That's not quite what the folks in St. Louis were looking for from a head coach. The problem for Spagnuolo is that if they don't beat Washington on Sunday, the bottom could fall out of their season as following the bye week they are on the road at Green Bay and then Dallas and then get New Orleans at home. He's starring into an 0-7 start and calls for his head.

3. Todd Haley, Kansas City Chiefs

The worst thing to happen to the Chiefs may have been achieving too much too soon. Last year, thanks to the collapse of the Chargers, the Chiefs went 10-6 and won the division. Reality, though, smacked them in the face in the playoffs when they were wiped 30-7 at home by the Ravens. This season with a tougher schedule, the Chiefs were expected to face a steeper hill to climb but they were simply destroyed in their first two games and turned back by the Chargers in the third. This is Haley's third year at the helm and if the Chiefs take a giant step backwards -- and it's hard not to think they are headed in that direction -- it could prove to be curtains for the coach.

4. Jack Del Rio, Jacksonville Jaguars

What would be a list of coaches in peril without Jack Del Rio being near the top of that list. This is Del Rio's ninth season leading the Jaguars and he has yet to lead them to a division title. Jacksonville hasn't made it to the playoffs since 2007 and since them have flirted with success each of the past two seasons only to lose in the clutch going down the stretch. This season, though, the 1-2 Jaguars made a surprise move just before the season by dropping veteran QB David Garrard and now have turned things over to rookie Blaine Gabbert. The Jags have no chance this season and neither will Del Rio of being the coach in 2012.

5. Gary Kubiak, Houston Texans

The Texans are 2-1 and no longer have to worry about a Peyton Manning-led Baltimore Colts team. Yet the Texans continually look to be less than the sum of their parts and do not look like a team that has the confidence to take that next step. They failed to come through last week in what could have been a statement game at New Orleans when their defence couldn't stop Drew Brees. Now they get a struggling Steelers team at home and have no excuses if they lose this one. The Texans are now in their sixth season of existence and have no playoff performances to show for it and the fans are holding Kubiak's feet to the fire for that failure. They simply have to show more with the talent on hand.

NOTES

The NFL lost a good guy Friday night with the announcement of the death of former Tennessee Titans offensive co-ordinator Mike Heimerdinger following a bout with cancer. He was 58.

"Mike was a great football coach; and over the years, we had a great relationship," Titan coach Munchak said. "I learned a lot of football from Mike and I have a number of great memories and experiences that will always be with me. It is just hard to believe he is gone. It is a sad day for his family and for those who knew him."

Former Tennessee head coach Jeff Fisher announced last November that Heimerdinger had been diagnosed with cancer. Titans general manager Mike Reinfeldt said in a statement that the team was saddened by the news of his death.

"Mike was a good man that brought a great level of dedication and professionalism to his job," Reinfeldt said. "He was brave in his fight over the last year and showed such a commitment to the game. Nothing was going to stop him last season from being a part of the team and having his stamp on the games.

"Our thoughts go out to (his wife) Kathie and his kids through this difficult time. Mike and his family will always be with us."

GIANT RETURN

No team has suffered more injuries to their defensive unit than the New York Giants and on Sunday they expect to get one of those bodies back as defensive end Osi Umenyiora expects to play against the Arizona Cardinals.

Umenyiora, 29, has been out since he had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in August.

"It's exciting," Umenyiora said of the possibility of returning to action. "This is what I like to do, love to do. I will get a chance to do that, whether it's this week or whenever it is, I am excited about that."

Last season Umenyiora tied for the team lead in sacks with 11 1/2. Since he's been out, he has been replaced by Jason Pierre-Paul who has 4 1/2 sacks, which ties him for second in the league.


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